FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows AI (Artificial Intelligence) letters and robot hand miniature

World Religions to commit to Rome Call on AI in Hiroshima

Religious leaders from across the world meet in Hiroshima, Japan, to sign the “Rome Call for AI Ethics”, emphasizing the vital importance of guiding the development of artificial intelligence with ethical principles that promote peace.

By Lisa Zengarini

Leaders of the major world religions are gathered in the Japanese city of Hiroshima this week to reaffirm their commitment to making sure that artificial intelligence (AI) is developed ethically and responsibly for peace.

Titled “AI Ethics for Peace: World Religions commit to the Rome Call”, the two-day forum is co-organized by the Pontifical Academy of Life (PAV), Religions for Peace Japan, the United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace, and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Commission for Interfaith Relations.

Signing of the “Rome Call for AI Ethics”

The highlight of the multi-faith event, which kicked off on Tuesday, will be the signing of the “Rome Call for AI Ethics”, issued in 2020 by the Pontifical Academy for Life and furthered by the RenAIssance Foundation, emphasizing the vital importance of guiding the development of artificial intelligence with ethical principles to ensure it serves the good of humanity.

The document, co-signed in Rome by Microsoft, IBM, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Italian Government, aims to foster an ethical approach to artificial intelligence and to promote a sense of responsibility among organizations, governments, information technology (IT) companies, and institutions, in order to shape a future in which digital innovation and technological progress serve human genius and creativity while safeguarding the human dignity of every individual and the planet.  

A multi-religious approach to the challenges posed by AI

Following the signing of the “Rome Call” by leaders of the three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) in 2023, in the name of peaceful coexistence and shared values, the event aims to reinforce the idea that a multi-religious approach to vital questions such as AI ethics is the path to follow.  

In a press release, organizers remark that the choice of the venue holds a particular significance, as Hiroshima stands as a powerful testament to the consequences of destructive technology and the enduring quest for peace.

A shared responsibility for peace and our common home

In his opening remarks at the session, on Tuesday morning, the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, reiterated the crucial role religions are called to play to ensure that the development of artificial intelligence, “a great tool with unlimited possibilities of application” he said, proceeds hand in hand with protecting the dignity of every human being and preserving our common home. “This is our common responsibility, and in this shared effort we can rediscover real fraternity,” he remarked.

“In Hiroshima, a highly symbolic place, we strongly invoke peace, and we ask that technology be a driver of peace and reconciliation among peoples. We stand here, together, to say loudly that standing together and acting together is the only possible solution.”

Cooperation, solidarity and ethical integrity

Bishop Paglia’s words were echoed by those of the leaders of the other organizing partners. "Cooperation, solidarity, and joint work are necessary to deal with the developments of Artificial Intelligence,” said  Sheikh  Abdallah Bin Bayyah, President of the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace.  “In doing so, we can pave the way for a future in which AI is a force for good – a future in which the fruits of technology are harnessed to build a more tolerant, peaceful and virtuous world," he said.

For his part, Rev. Yoshiharu Tomatsu, Chairperson of Religions for Peace Japan reiterated his  organization’s commitment to ensure that AI promotes “inclusivity and mutual respect for everyone."

Rabbi Eliezer Simha Weisz, Member of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Commission for Interfaith Relations, insisted that as people of faith, religious leaders “carry a unique responsibility to infuse our pursuit of AI with moral clarity and ethical integrity.”

He further highlighted the need to utilize AI “not merely as a tool for progress, but as a conduit for deepening our connection to the divine and fortifying our spiritual journey. “AI strengthens our faith in God, providing avenues for exploring the intricacies of creation and the mysteries of existence," he said.

Ethical governance of AI

Other speakers on Tuesday included Father Paolo Benanti, Professor of Ethics of Technology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, who presented the Hiroshima Addendum on Generative AI. The document focuses on the need for ethical governance of generative AI - an ongoing process that requires a sustained commitment from all stakeholders so that its potential is used for the good of humanity.

Also speaking on Tuesday were high representatives of IT companies such as Microsoft, IMB Cisco, as well as UN and FAO officials.  

The gathering will conclude on July 10 with the signing of the “Rome Appeal After the testimony of an atomic bomb survivor, participants also planned to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, as well as the Cenotaph of the atomic bomb victims where they will lay flowers in their memory.

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09 July 2024, 15:31